Over 500 Joe Biden campaign and Democratic National Committee staffers have signed a letter urging the president to go further in protecting Palestinians from the “dispossession and ethnic cleansing” perpetrated by Israel.
The president recently helped to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas after Israel brutally escalated attacks on Gaza in recent weeks, killing at least 243 Palestinians. The signatories praise the ceasefire, but say that Biden must condemn Israel for the decades of violence and oppression it has imposed on Palestinians.
“[W]e implore you to continue using the power of your office to hold Israel accountable for its actions and lay the groundwork for justice and lasting peace,” wrote the staffers. “The very same values that motivated us to work countless hours to elect you demand that we speak out in the aftermath of the recent explosive violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, which is inextricable from the ongoing history of occupation, blockade, and settlement expansion.”
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The signatories condemn killings by Israel and Hamas but recognize that Palestinians have historically been oppressed and have “nowhere to hide” from Israeli forces, which destroyed several buildings in Gaza leaving thousands of Gaza residents without homes.
“It is critical to acknowledge this power imbalance — that Israel’s highly-advanced military occupies the West Bank and East Jerusalem and blockades the Gaza Strip, creating an uninhabitable open-air prison,” they write. “While we should never reduce the loss of human life to numbers, Palestinians have suffered hundreds of casualties, demonstrative of Israel’s power over Palestinians and its penchant for disproportionate responses.”
Though Biden brokered a ceasefire agreement, he did so while still downplaying the oppression and apartheid imposed on Palestinians. The Biden administration is slowly and minimally shifting its language away from previous administrations’ uncritical support of Israel, but it has yet to take definitive action — like canceling a planned $735 million weapons sale to Israeli forces. And Biden continues to assert that Israel was justified in its recent brutal violence against Palestinians.
The signatories are asking for Biden to do more. “We ask you to unequivocally condemn Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians,” they write, and say that the White House should support a path to self-determination for Palestinians.
Progressive lawmakers praised the staffers for the letter, especially in light of the risk involved in publicly standing up for Palestinians.
“As a former 2008 Obama/Biden campaign staffer, I can’t be any prouder of those who came together, rooted in human rights and justice, to demand accountability of our own country and the active role we are playing in violating those values by funding the killing of Palestinians,” wrote Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan).
Tlaib also recently confronted Biden for his weakness on Israeli apartheid, addressing him directly during a trip to her state to speak at an auto factory. According to an aide, she told the president that “Palestinian human rights are not a bargaining chip and must be protected, not negotiated.”